If you’re a fan of the grid-based strategy rpg, rejoice. While the genre might be dying in general, games like Wakfu will be giving it life for years to come. It might not be the grand strategic experience that you’re looking for to take you back to your Final Fantasy Tactics or Shining Force days, but it is a relatively successful implementation of a social formula into, well, an anti-social genre!
Wakfu is E for everyone in my book. Its like looking at a beautiful coloring book, and the community is actually helpful and appreciative. I dont think anyone has sworn at me yet!
Gameplay - 80 / 100
When it comes down to fighting though, it’s about your class. Most of the time you’ll likely be alone, and some classes are more self-sufficient than others. Once you’ve engaged a monster, you’ll have the option of initial placement before an initiative-based turn system is engaged. From there you can move around and exchange blows until you or the other(s) fall.
Even the ends of the earth have some extra detail and polish on them.
Basic systems are in place from other games of the genre, such as heightened damage/lower evasion by attacking from the sides or rear, and information on your opponents is readily available. When you come across a bad guy that is insurmountable alone, this is where making a party of adventurers and cooperating on the battle map comes into play. Solo, you only will ever control one unit at a time, and that never works in these games against most hardened foes.
Combat is smooth and quick, with most characters being capable of 1-3 actions per turn. You have 30 seconds to take your turn whether you’re in a party or not, and there is a bonus gauge that rewards you for speed in selecting your actions. So rest assured that you’ll never be waiting long to punch enemies or fling magic when you play with others.
There’s a strong emphasis on tradeskilling as is the case in most MMOs, but I have to give special mention to the ability to re-grow your destroyed nodes. There is a light/dark side type meter that is earned over time via your actions to the world, and I don’t just mean static answers to NPCs. For instance, you have the option to cut down a tree outright, or harvest trimmings several times. The trimmings can be planted nearby to grow a tree over time, and just cutting the trimmings leaves part of the tree that can grow back. So you can create little groves of trees, some to be chopped, and some to be harvested, in this bizarre equilibrium.
Many tradeskills use this system, and even those that don’t have other systems in place that make the process more interesting than a mere right click. Unfortunately, there are some navigation issues that can only be solved with experience—you know the level range of a zone, you know it contains a trade skill machine/refinery or two, but you have no idea where in the zone it actually is. This is a factor when it comes down to leveling as well, since the game does have a plethora of quests with a similar lacking of direction.
Well this place isn't ominous at all...
Leveling makes you realize quickly that there'll be a lot of grinding in your future, and you had better love Wakfu's combat or you’ll be uninstalling within a week. Every attack also has a level and, should you go down a path you’re not pleased with, guess who has to throw 3000 earth punches or whatever to get that elemental attack class up to speed? Yeah.
That said, there are a lot of cool classes and abilities that manipulate you and enemies, and a lot of diversity in builds—if you have the time to grind and develop them.
Graphics - 90 / 100
Wakfus art director is to be commended--the game's art style is just gorgeous. Animations are creative and vivid, with bright, colorful effects punctuating anything moving. Theres even a day and night cyclebut the night isnt particularly impressive, being the only real dark spot on an otherwise beautiful graphical palette for a F2P game.
Sound - 77 / 100
Quirky animal sound effects abound in the world of Wakfu, and your spells or abilities have some good punch on impact. The music is somewhat subdued most of the time, but occasionally youll run into a boss or scenario that has its own unique and impressive track. Voice acting is minimal and expected of a F2P game, so hope you dont mind reading all of your quests and achievements!
Multiplayer - 87 / 100
Im still astounded by this community. People are helpful, interested in teaching others, throwing equipment out and teaching newbies things that were glossed over or not explained yet. Not just in the newbie area mind you, even out in the world itself, I kept running across people lending a hand to those in need and those who could look like they could use their hand-me-down gear. So, well done WakfuI would give you the Community of the Year Award if I could at the moment.
The actual gameplay between multiple party members works out well, and the system is designed to get people to take their turns quickly and efficiently, which makes this multiplayer turn-based game actually not a pain in the ass to play.
Value - 82 / 100
While it might be free to play, there is a subscription system in place for those who stick with it. Only your first two major zones will supply you with quests and achievements, and you’ll be limited in a variety of other ways. The subscription is cheap and the content is solid though, and eventually you’ll need the ability to work with money. That’s right, unless you subscribe, you can’t make money—at all.
Sorry pal. Even exploring ruins at night won't get you any coin without a subscription.
But if you enjoy playing, at $6 USD a month, paying a subscription fee is much easier to stomach than most games, all without forcing you to do anything at the cash shop.
Lasting Appeal - 77 / 100
With a unique art style and unique combat system for an MMORPG, Wakfu definitely has a niche carved out for itself in the genre. It even has a stellar community that I haven’t seen since the glory days of Ragnarok Online.; But just like that game, it does have a legendary grind at the end of the day, and your ability to tolerate that, more than anything else, will ultimately influence how long you’ll play this game.
Pros and Cons
- Gorgeous art style
- Interesting take on gathering tradeskills
- Lots of cool classes and abilities
- Horrible grind
- Needs more documentation in-game
- Very little direction – at one point I wandered into a level 25+ zone while trying to find new and different 10+ mobs. I don’t need my hand held, but I would like a nudge from time to time.
Wakfu isnt for everyone, but it is right up your alley if you love a grid-based strategy RPG with the MMO elements were all familiar with. It has enough charm to keep you in awe for days, and enough depth to keep you playing for weeks. But after those weeks are done, longevity really depends on your ability to stomach the grind. Fortunately, the community is of high enough quality that it actually makes your life easier and more pleasant; its a real stunner for a primarily F2P game. So whether you choose to be a warrior or mage, green thumb or eco-terrorist, youll have a long road ahead of youbut an enjoyable journey.
Overall 83/100 - Very Good
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